Photo: Max Coates leading a pack of MINI CHALLENGE UK racers at Silverstone
Max Coates headed to Silverstone at the weekend for rounds seven, eight and nine of the MINI CHALLENGE UK hoping to reignite his championship ambitions.
Following a successful test day on the Friday Coates went into the race weekend feeling confident, however, he would have to overcome an eight-place grid penalty following an on-track incident at Knockhill. The Elite Motorsport driver posted the sixth-fastest time in qualifying but would be relegated to fourteenth on the grid for the opening race of the weekend.
A good start immediately gained him a position at turn one, before a further two places gained at turn two as drivers ran wide. As the race progressed the top twelve drivers formed a long train, all jostling for position. Coates, in the NGK Spark Plugs backed car made up another place at the final corner to take another top ten finish.
He then started in tenth for race two and again immediately made up a position before going around the outside of two cars into the famous Brooklands corner. He continued his rise through the pack eventually climbing to fifth and showing as one of the fastest drivers on track.
Then, in the final race of the weekend shown live on ITV2 on Sunday afternoon, Coates lined up fifth on the grid and slotted into position in the early laps. He made a pass for fourth on lap three and immediately closed on the drivers in front battling for the podium positions. Despite his best efforts he couldn’t gain any more positions and make his mark on the podium and had to settle for fourth place.
After he commented, “This weekend was always going to be difficult following the penalty from Knockhill but I think given that we made great progress in races one and two. I was disappointed not to take a podium in the final race as I felt the pace was there to do so, just not the gap to make my way through. I’d like to thank all my partners for making this weekend possible as it hung in the balance last week. Primex Plastics and JiC Transport have been brilliant and it’s great to welcome Cirrus Research and our other new partners to the team."
The series now heads to Snetterton for the penultimate round of the season on the 24th and 25th October.
2020 MINI CHALLENGE UK Season Calendar:
1. Donington Park National – 1st & 2nd August
2. Knockhill – 29th & 30th August
3. Silverstone – 26th & 27th September
4. Snetterton – 24th and 25th October
5. Brands Hatch Indy – 14th & 15th November